I thought I would go ahead and put the next four targets in their own post. Eventually, I will put all of them together in a pdf and attach that to a post and possibly remove the separate ones, just to keep from cluttering things up too much.
December 2, 2016 – Morning
I managed to get up very early, in an effort to catch Cancer a little more to the east than what I have been seeing in other mornings. M67 is one that I have missed because I could hardly see the constellation, much less a rather dim open cluster. The temperature was 28 Deg F, the sky was completely clear and still as far as I could tell.
67-M67: Cancer was located just east of zenith and to the South of me, between Gemini and Leonis. I saw Alpha Cancrii to the southeast of the Delta at the center of Cancer. I put the finder scope red dot on Alpha and looked through the 25mm Plossl eyepiece in the Infinity 80, then moved the scope to the west about two degrees. There was M67. Only the brighter stars were visible with all the others being grey spots and not resolved. I put in the 17mm Plossl and a few more stars presented themselves. The brighter stars seemed to make out the numeral 2 to me, only backwards. The time was about 4:10 AM.
Next on the agenda were three galaxies underneath the Lion. M95, M96, and M105. I started out by locating Alpha and Beta Lionis. Alpha is on the west end of the figure and represents a front foot to me. Beta is the tail end of the Lion. Mentally drawing a line between the two, the star Rho Lionis is about a third of the way from Alpha to Beta and South of the line maybe three degrees. Theta Lionis is routhou a third of the way from Beta and above the line a couple degrees. The general area of the three galaxies is North of a line from Rho to Theta and about 40% of the way from Rho.
68-M95: I could see Rho just looking up and could imagine the line and the position of the general area. I fiddled around for a while, locating the spot I thought the group of galaxies were and putting my red dot finder on it. In that area, there were some stars I was looking for, Leo 53 in particular. I thought I had it and could see some fuzzy spots after allowing my retina to saturate, but was not sure if the star was 53. I went back to Rho, but did not star-hop….I star-crawled. Referring to my Atlas and Uranometria charts, I verified star by star along the way until I was certain that I had Leo 53. With the 25 mm Plossl in place, I could just barely get 53 and 52 above it in the field at the same time. I could see a lot of vague “stirrings” in the grey between those two stars and Leo 46, which I could see with some adjustment in the scope position, just not all three of the stars at the same time.
I centered the field where I thought the Messier Galaxies should be and changed to the 17mm eyepiece. There was a very dim, but definite lightening of the background more to the left in my reversed field, about two degrees from Leo 53. This turned out to be M95.
69-M96: I looked more toward 53 in the spot where I thought M96 should be. Looking all around the area to use averted vision, I started getting dim “flashes” every once in a while. However, what I was seeing really did not have much form and certainly did not have a brighter center. This was M96 when I finally got things figured out.
70-M105: Well, if those two were M95 and M96, then M105 should be on the far side of M96 from Leo 53. Sure enough, there was a grey area that was dim but very obvious. It seemed to be larger than M95 and definitely bigger than M96. The pictures I had seen of M105 showed a round galaxy, but this area was more oblong, tapering to the west in my view. Possibly, the other galaxy NGC 3384 was involved as well. Once I figured out where all three were and compared it and star positions with my Uranometria chart, allowing for the reverse image, there was a match. By the time I did all that, it was a little after 5 AM. I am calling the discovery of M105 5:10 AM.
It was still plenty dark and I was not totally frozen, so I decided to make an attempt at the Leo Triplet. I did find them, I think, located between Theta and Iota Leonis, along the back leg of the Lion. I definitely saw two grey oblongs at times that I think are M65 and M66, but I want to get in another observation, verify that they are really there, and verify the stars in the area, before marking them as found.
Observation Session Summary:
67-M67: Dim open cluster about two degrees west of Alpha Cancrii. Brighter stars resolved but most of cluster visible as grey spots in 25mm eyepiece. 12/2/2016 4:05 AM CST
68-M95: Spiral Galaxy about 40% of the way from Rho to Theta Leonis, 2 deg NE of 53 Leo. Oval, very faint grey spot with 17mm eyepiece. 12/2/2016 4:50 AM CST
69-M96: Spiral Galaxy about one degree east of M95. Oval, very faint grey spot with 17mm eyepiece. 12/2/2016 4:55 AM CST
70-M105: Spiral Galaxy about one degree NNW or M96 in a triangle with M95. Large faint grey longish area. Probably blend with NGC 3384, with 17mm eyepiece. 12/2/2016 5:10 AM CST